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Monday, November 19, 2012

Hawaii Cruise log, Part 3

Hawaii Cruise Log, Part 3 Day 16 Sunday, November 4 Today was the first of 2 sea days on our way to the French Polynesian Islands. After breakfast we were out in the sun for a bit, and after lunch we watched, "The Five Year Engagement" which was a huge disappointment to me. We worked out, Chuck in the gym, and me at the pool. I am really enjoying the chance to swim every day now. I have worked my way up to swimming laps for 30 minutes and unlike working out on the treadmill, I feel great and very relaxed when I am done. We and went to dinner at the Horizon Court and I had an absolutely delicious piece of cheesecake for dessert.After dinner we wentto a show in the Princess Theater. This show was called,"The Piano Man" and was performed by the singer and dancers on the ship. The show featured songs by Billy Joel, Barry Manilow and Elton John. It was quite good. After the show, my stomach was bothering me so we went back to the room. Maybe I ate too much rich food tonight?.... Day 17 Monday, November 5 Today was the worst day I have ever had on a cruise…not just this cruise, but of all the 7 cruises we have been on, today was the worst. It was probably a 24 hour intestinal bug that goes around many cruise ships. I was so sick today that all I wanted to do was stay in bed. I did go with Chuck for 3 meals, but more too keep him company than to eat.I found out later that if the ship's doctor had known I was sick I would have been quarantined to the cabin for 24 hours. I had brought Pepto Bismal and didn't need to go see him.I ate bland food for the day. I went back to the room and went back to bed. Poor Chuck…he stayed with me but took a nap, and then it was lunchtime. This afternoon, there was an informational lecture about our next 3 stops in the French Polynesian Islands. I knew I couldn’t make it through the lecture and thought Chuck would go, but he stayed with me. They always show the port lectures on TV so we were hoping to hit it before we actually arrived on our first island of Bora Bora tomorrow. There was a concert at 3:00 p.m. The performer was a concert pianist from Australia and she was to be performing with the ship’s orchestra, and she was supposedly fabulous. I decided to go to the concert with Chuck and was feeling better, but still not 100%. I am so glad I went. This performer was amazing, and in between selections she gave little anecdotes about her life which made the concert much more personable to the audience. I thoroughly enjoyed her performance, and have never seen a pianist that was SO immersed in the music she was performing. It was easy to tell that she that she is very passionate about the music she performs. She put her whole body into each piece, swaying back and forth as she played and leaning forward at times as though she wanted to be a part of the keys. I went back to the room, and while Chuck went to workout, I took another nap. By dinner time, I was feeling well enough to have a roll, mashed potatoes, and a bit of roast turkey. And I even had orange Jello for dinner…that was the best tasting Jello I had ever had since it was also the most flavorful thing I had had to eat since the night before. I started to feel even better as the night went on. It was early to bed tonight so I can hopefully get a good night’s rest for our tour excursion tomorrow. Day 18, Tuesday, November 6 Today we are in Bora Bora.I am feeling fine today, thankfully. We went on a bus tour in an open windowed old bus with plastic seats with small cushions (fortunately). This island was at one time a U.S. military base and it is possible to still see some of the remains of the bunkers around the island. Our first stop was to a roadside stand with natives who were selling parehos ( wraps that women wear as dresses, and men can also wear them)and we were given a demonstration as to how to wear them correctly. There was also a display of native fruits that we could enjoy. Once back on the bus, we went to an area next to the water where you could see a large group of holes in the sand near the water. These were the homes of land crabs, and we were instructed to take the flowers that had been attached to the inside of the bus and throw them out the windows near the holes. Once the flowers landed, land crabs would crawl out of the holes, grab the flowers and drag them back into their holes with them. It was pretty interesting to watch. We later saw land crab holes throughout the other Polynesian Islands as well. The beaches here are all around the island. I was really surprised at the number of broken down homes that were right on the water here, and looked like they were about to fall apart, but were on prime beachfront land. Most of the families live in houses on land that has been passed down from generation to generation. I asked the tour guide about how little the families seem to have here. She said most of them are very happy as long as they have a boat. Even a small boat is enough to take them out fishing and with fish and home grown fruits and vegetables, they don't have a need for too much else. The last stop on this tour of Bora Bora was a restaurant named, ‘Bloody Mary’s” which is a well known watering hole for tourists, including Jimmy Buffet. The building is not that large, but it does have a thatched roof, and a sand floor. When you walk inside, instead of a coat check area, there is a sandal check. At meal time, there is a trough filled with water, fish and lobsters, so customers can choose their dinner. The tables were nicely laid out with white tablecloths and place settings, but with sand for the floor. We were quite thirsty at this time, so Chuck went to buy a soda. The Diet Coke he bought costs $5, and if he had bought a beer, it would have cost $10!!! Definitely a tourist trap! I need to say that the island that I had heard so many wonderful things about was a huge disappointment to me because there are so many stray dogs around that don’t have homes that it’s hard to overlook them and see the beauty before me. I asked our tour guide about them and she said she originally was born and raised in Papeete,Tahiti and when she came here, that was the most surprising thing to her. She said people don’t have the money to spay or neuter their dogs so the dog population multiplies and no one takes are of them. Day 19, Wednesday, November 7 Today we were on the French Polynesian island of Moorea, which is pronounced Mo o rea. When we woke up we were already tendered in the bay and when I looked off the balcony, the view took my breath away. In front of me were mountains, and one in particular looked like “Bali Hai” from the movie South Pacific. Later in the tour we were told that a lot of people think that it is the mountain from the movie, but that the movie was actually filmed in Hawaii, and they did some modifications on a mountain there to make it look the way it does. We got off the tender and walked onto a strip of road that was littered with craft tents from the natives. We are getting used to seeing these now because they are at all the French Polynesian islands and since tourists are the main source of income, this is a big deal. I am not all that interested in the shell and black pearl jewelry that the native sell, nor the parehos. But I always like to look. I did buy 2 small shell hair clips today because it has been so hot I need to pull of my hair back in a ponytail but then the front part hangs in my face, The young girl I bought them from seemed quite grateful. The main strip was quite hot, but there were places to sit along the bay area and the breeze was amazing. You could walk about 15 feet into the shade near the bay and be perfectly cool. We saw a lot of land crab hole along the waterfront, and I pointed one out to a lady who was about to sit down on a rock next to a crab, and she screamed. Everyone around her laughed about her reaction, including her. Eventually we were able to board our air conditioned bu and met our tour guide who was a blonde, blue eyed man named, “Blanc” which as he explained means white. Although it is unusual for a Tahitian to be blond haired and blue eyed, he explained that his mother was of Swiss background, and his father was Tahitian. Blanc spoke both English and French quite well, so took turns speaking in both languages. He also speaks Tahitian and made fun of us who only speak English. He took us to the top of a lookout where we could see both Cook’s Bay, named after Captain Cook, and the bay where our ship was docked. There were some absolutely amazing hairpin turns he had to take to get us up to the top, and I am sure I am not the only passenger holding my breath as he maneuvered to the top of the hill. We stopped at a few other lookouts and at one, were able to see some of the huts out on the water that belonged to different hotels on the island. From this viewpoint, we could also see a beautiful reef where the water ranged in depth from 3 feet to 9 feet. This meant that we could see beautiful colors where the water got deeper and then more shallow. Across the bay from here we could see the island of Tahiti, where we will be tomorrow. I must say that this was the most beautiful port I have seen so far on this cruise and I fell in love with the natural beauty. Unfortunately, I did once again see a lot of stray dogs and that was sad. I thought how much fun it would be to move here and start a dog rescue center. But the beauty of the island overshadowed that for me. We went past an school of agriculture that Blanc told us French Polynesian students that were not really strong students academically were often sent here for 3 years to learn how to grow plants which would lead them to a vocation. It is the French Polynesian counterpart to America’s vocational schools. If someone wanted to teach in the agriculture school, they would need to go for 3 more years. Like Bora Bora, we saw many families whose homes were not fancy, and were right on the water, but they fished and grew their own fruits and vegetables and could support their families on that alone. Gas on the island is $10 per gallon, which explains why we saw so many mopeds. Our tour took us all around the island. Toward the end of the tour, Blanc took us to a store which sold black pearl jewelry and told us that his wife worked at this store so could get us a discount on the jewelry we bought. This store had snacks and souvenirs as well as pearl jewelry. I asked about the post cards and they were $4.00 each here…Yikes! Bottles of wine here ran about $18 per bottle. We did buy a bottle of Coke to share here for about $1.29 which wasn’t too bad. It was quite hot still so we were happy to head back to the tender and get onboard the cool ship, although it did make me sad to leave this beautiful island. Day 20, Thursday, November 8 Today we were in the port of Papeete, in Tahiti. Papeete is pronounced Pa pai et tai and is the capital of all the French Polynesian islands. To be honest, I was not impressed. It was similar to any big city you might find…such as Los Angeles or New York City. I personally don’t like big cities, except I must say I am partial to New York. The ship was docked so we didn’t have to take a tender in. We went to the shore at about 9:15a.m. to see what we could explore before our 11:50 a.m. tour time. As soon as we were off the ship, I began to sweat, and was not happy about it! At first we wandered around in the city. There was a shopping center across from the ship’s dock so we headed there. The shops were all outside shops and I was getting quite hot. I found 3 post cards to send to family members, but they cost $1.10 each, which is a LOT more than we are used to paying for post cards in the U.S., but certainly a lot cheaper than $4.00 each as they were yesterday in Moorea!!! We saw a McDonalds which had everything written in French on the signs. It was really too hot to hang out in the heat so we headed back to the ship, but on the dock there were some natives doing Tahitian dances, making baskets out of palm fronds, and also necklaces. There was also a craft market there, and a local tourism information center which was air conditioned. I decided to stay there and explore while Chuck went back onboard for an hour. I didn’t buy any crafts because they just weren’t my style, and I am so very tired of seeing parehos. When the time came for us to meet the tour guide on the dock, it was very confusing. There were tons of people all crowding around trying to get to the right excursion. We finally found our bus, which looked rather like a Greyhound so although the seats were comfortable, the air conditioning was low, so we all had to open the windows to get some cool breezes in as the bus was moving. On the way out of the city, the tour guide explained many of the different parks, beaches and buildings we were passing. The first place we stopped was an island museum. Although they didn’t have a lot of actual artifacts, there was a lot of written history and pictures to go through. It was cool in the museum, which was probably the best part of that whole experience. There was a small gift shop, rest rooms, and a soda machine. We had been given some French Polynesian coins the day before so we used them in the machine and got rid of most of our coins to buy a Coke. Next stop was to an open air reconstruction of an old Polynesian temple. Chuck got out and took a few pictures but I wasn’t interested and was too hot. As we left that area, the guide made sure to point out all the road side stands selling fresh fruit from people’s trees like pineapple and papaya. There were also stands selling sea urchins, which apparently taste pretty good. Next stop was a garden with a gift shop and a very beautiful water fall. When we were on our way to the South Pacific, I thought I would see many waterfalls, but this was the only one for the whole trip since this is out last day of actual touring. This garden also had a pretty pond with lily pads in it, and a few hiking trails but we didn’t have time to hike, plus it was too hot anyway! The best part of this visit was the waterfall and we made sure to take some pictures by it. The next stop was at a lovely Chinese woman’s house. She is actually from Tahiti, and married a man from England. Together they run a restaurant on the island right down the street from her their home. But she gives tours of the grounds of their home, and points out all the specific plants and their uses. She pointed out one that can heal skin cancer, and some that heal that itching from mosquito bites. She also showed us the Noni plant which I have heard a lot about. She says it is a cure for diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. That sounds quite interesting to me since I do have high cholesterol so I am going to look into it a bit more when I get home. If I could drink a natural juice to lower my cholesterol, rather than having to be on daily medication for it and followed by a doctor, I would much rather drink the juice! I took some gorgeous pictures of her plants and the grounds of her home, which overlook a beautiful bay with mountains in the background. At the end of the tour, we were led to a gazebo and treated to fresh pineapple juice and fresh fruit which included pineapple slices, coconut, bananas and gooseberry jam. The fresh pineapple juice tasted absolutely refreshing since it was pretty warm out, and if you weren’t in an area where the breeze could reach you, the heat was pretty bad. The last stop of our tour today was to a fern grotto. I had never seen one before and so we walked through an area that almost seemed like a jungle for 5 minutes, and then came out into a clearing with a huge fern covered rock formation with a huge cave-like opening in the bottom where people were swimming. It was quite pretty and the water looked dark but refreshing. We headed back to the city of Papeete. Gas here is $8 per gallon, a bit cheaper than in Moorea. The city was hugely disappointing. It’s not what I think of when I think of Tahiti. On the way back to the city, on the quieter roads, the tour guide pointed out stands on the side of the road where people were selling fish they had caught that day. There were bags of parts of fish that you could buy, or whole fish hanging up. Well, I guess you at least knew they would be fresh!We were the last tour back to the ship, but because we booked the excursion through the Princess Cruise line, we were not concerned about being left behind. The ship will always wait if there is a cruise excursion that they sponsor that has not returned to the ship. If you are on your own though, the ship won’t wait, and people have had to fly to the next cruise stop to catch up with the ship in some cases. Chuck is concerned about that so we always book tours through the cruise ship, or just explore the port town on our own so we are close to the ship. This was our last port stop so tonight as we left the island of Tahiti, I tried to get in as many shots as I could. Moorea is right across the bay, visible from Tahiti so I got some shots of a partially cloud covered Moorea as well. I also got an amazing view and some pictures of a prism next to the clouds. It wasn’t an actual rainbow, but it was rainbow colors and was beautiful. I was on the 15th deck, out toward the back of the ship though and it was so windy that it was hard to make sure I took good pictures that weren’t blurred because of the wind.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, you are such a prolific writer, Karen! What a fun and interesting post! And I love the romantic concept of this blog. You never cease to amaze me, and I'm sorta embarrassed that I'm tripping all over these cliches. But it's true...I am so impressed!